EXCLUSIVE: Execs at Disney are in the early stages of reviving Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid as a live-action feature. Disney produchttp://deadline.com/2016/05/disney-beauty-and-the-beast-live-action-teaser-1201761213/tion chiefs recently heard a new take and are currently evaluating whether to proceed with the idea. Deadline understands that initial discussions have also taken place with major producers, including some with a strong connection to the studio.
The Little Mermaid holds special significance for Disney, which produced an animated version of the story in 1989. That pic, which followed the adventures of Ariel the singing mermaid, gave viewers classic songs such as “Under The Sea” and helped usher in a new golden age of animation at Disney. That streak would include Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin.
The teaser for Disney’s live-action version of Beauty And The Beast, starring Emma Watson, was viewed almost 92 million times in its first 24 hours alone this week, beating the previous record holder for most viewed teaser Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as the latest installments of Marvel titles Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age Of Ultron — all of which are Disney movies.
That, along with the sensational performance of The Jungle Book, with a worldwide gross to date of $860 million — has buoyed Disney execs to look through their back catalog for more live-action adaptations.
Should Disney execs decide to move forward, they’ll find strong competition from an existing live-action project being led by Brit production powerhouse Working Title. That Little Mermaid project, set up at Universal, has Chloe Grace Moretz attached to star and up-and-coming filmmaker Rebecca Thomas set to direct from a script by Richard Curtis.
Disney is moving forward expansively with its live-action slate in general. In April it dated a number of films in addition to Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27), Beauty And The Beast (March 17, 2017), as well as this summer’s Pete’s Dragon (August 12). The slate includes Cruella with Emma Stone set for the title role and Kelly Marcel writing; A Wrinkle In Time with Ava DuVernay attached to direct and Jennifer Lee writing; Jungle Cruise with Dwayne Johnson set to star and John Requa and Glenn Ficarra writing; Dumbo with director Tim Burton and writer Ehren Kruger; and a sequel to Mary Poppins with director Rob Marshall, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Also in the pipelines are Maleficent 2 with Angelia Jolie set to return in the title role and Linda Woolverton writing; The Nutcracker And The Four Realms with director Lasse Hallstrom and writer Ashleigh Powell; The Jungle Book 2 with both director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks returning; and a Tinker Bell project with Reese Witherspoon set to star and Victoria Strouse writing